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Cowboys pre-draft press conference: Dak Prescott’s status, drafting a QB, offense/defense scheme

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The Cowboys front office updates their thinking heading into the draft.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Coach Mike McCarthy Press Conference Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft is just two days away and it is exciting that we are finally about to know more about Mike McCarthy’s Dallas Cowboys.

Generally the pre-draft press conference offers some clues about what the organization wants to do throughout the draft. With the world operating differently amid the COVID-19 pandemic the press conference took place virtually.

We’ve provided highlights from it all right here for you. As always these are paraphrased answers and not exact quotes. You can watch the press conference in its entirety right here.


What are the challenges in communication throughout draft

Mike McCarthy noted that there are a lot of points of technology that will aid the Cowboys and that the trials they’ve been through have been very organized and impressive. He commended the IT staff for the Cowboys and noted their dry runs have gone very well.

Jerry Jones added that the press conference they were in the middle of was the lowest-quality reception that they had experienced while performing test runs on all of this. He noted that he feels as if things have gone seamlessly to this point and that most of the time they’ve had their screen full of scouts and coaches with the ability for presentations to be made and discussed. He noted they had issues hooking Stephen in today, but in the past the scouts and others have been on screen and things have worked well over the past two weeks. He went on to indicate that they have all the information they needed to evaluate players in the draft.

Dak Prescott missing out on offseason program

Mike McCarthy was asked about Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and the team’s offseason workouts. He kept it pretty close to the vest and said that things have gone well so far.

Free agency amid the current circumstances

Jerry Jones noted that he feels as if the team has improved on the defensive side of the ball. He said that the interior players along with Aldon Smith have improved that side of the ball. He also said they have done well against the salary cap.

Where does the roster stand defensively and what can we learn about the scheme?

Mike McCarthy noted that he feels as if with the players that the Cowboys have added that they will be able to shift gears with what they are doing with their defensive scheme. He noted that the scheme will be different than before. He added that with the team only being on day two (at the time of this press conference) they are only getting to the beginning of what they are going to be doing this season.

How has life changed for Mike McCarthy

He noted that the times that our world are in have reinforced the notion that family is his priority. He added that the time the Cowboys have been able to spend together professionally has been the best that it could be and that they feel prepared for the NFL draft.

Replacing Travis Frederick

Mike McCarthy complimented Travis Frederick’s career. He noted that the Cowboys have a lot of options there in Joe Looney, “the two Connors”, Marcus Henry, and Adam Redmond. He said that the Cowboys have really good numbers and that the experience in the veteran group is something that makes them feel good moving forward.

Dak Prescott has been involved in communication with coaches

McCarthy noted that things have been voluntary to this point and that there has been trial and error with the current virtual setup. He was very specific on not answering whether or not Dak Prescott has been part of the virtual offseason program that started on Monday, stating he wasn’t going to do a roll call of who was there as it was voluntary. He noted that Dak has been involved as far as communication with the coaches and, despite the best efforts from the questioning media, declined to go further.

Status of Dak Prescott’s contract negotiations

Jerry Jones said there is no timeframe, it’s not on a list of priorities with everything they are dealing with in the world and the upcoming draft. He was not concerned by any of the contract issues. He also said there was no surprise about the franchise tag cost, and no surprise with no long-term agreement yet.

How Mike McCarthy puts together a board

Mike McCarthy noted that when you put together a draft board that you go through the same process every year. He said that it is important to grade players by position and round, and that you view say the quarterback position the way you would each and every year, so on and so forth.

Would the Cowboys trade number 17 overall for a player already in the league?

Jerry Jones said that at this time of year, in the time leading up to the draft, that draft picks are valued greater by NFL teams. He noted that trading a first-round pick for a player that is going to cost you a lot more (as in their contract) is highly unlikely. He noted that nothing is impossible but kept it pretty vague.

How will the Cowboys handle signing UDFAs

Jerry Jones noted that he is very comfortable after the league-wide dress rehearsal for the NFL Draft. He noted that backups for everything are going to be necessary to execute trades or the business of the draft. He said that they had those, used backups, and that they handled circumstances that could possibly happen during the draft. He added that there was even an issue during the simulated pick the Cowboys were doing and that they were even in the middle of a trade ( ).

Jerry also added that there could be more creativity with trades across the league.

Jerry’s anticipation for ability to get a Day 1 starter

Jerry noted that the Cowboys don’t have multiple picks in each round. He said that he likes the 17th overall pick and that he feels there is without question quality that will be there in each round.

He also added that there are quality players there that could excite a trade for someone to come up and want Dallas’ pick. He specifically referenced the last time that the Cowboys traded back when they netted Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams. He said that that circumstance is possible if you can in any way look at the makeup of the draft and predict that.

Confidence level in Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith being reinstated

Jerry noted that Aldon Smith has been in the process of trying to re-enter the NFL for several months and that he knows firsthand that Smith is very diligent in his work, consulting, and all the work to do the things that the league looks at to reinstate players.

Jerry added that he wouldn’t “dare” get into where the league is and how they will go about the process for both players. He did say that as a league they really are bent toward the medical aspect of many problems or issues that have come up for different players.

Mike McCarthy’s view on the evolution of the Cowboys offense

Coach McCarthy said that he sees the most important part of the coaching transition is to keep as much language in place that they can. He noted that it is going to be a different offense but that they want to build off of what was done conceptually with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the offensive line.

Defensive thoughts and changes

Mike McCarthy said that he wasn’t being general in noting that they want to acquire as many good players that they can. He said that the Cowboys aren’t looking for a certain profile and limiting themselves in any sense and that that is why it is always good to trust your board. He even referenced the 2010 Green Bay Packers that won Super Bowl XLV and noted that quality depth was a big reason for that victory. He added that they want to be versatile and able to do a variety of things.

3-4 versus 4-3 defensive scheme

Make no mistake about it, according to Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys are a 4-3 defense. He noted that there could be versatility among the pass rushers in terms of body types and skills and they will try to utilize that.

Mike McCarthy’s impression of Aldon Smith in California meeting

The head coach also added that Aldon Smith was very impressive when he visited him in California, and that he was impressed with his path to recovery.

UDFA process

Stephen Jones said that he doesn’t believe there will be a huge issue when it comes to college free agency. He specifically added that he would be very surprised if there were any glitches and that they feel like they can get things done and do so in a quality way.

Do contract talks with Dak influence the draft at all

Asked if Dak Prescott’s contract situation will have any bearing on the team’s draft strategy Jerry Jones noted that the Cowboys will approach Dak’s contract and situation in the way that they always have. He said they always want to be developing a young quarterback and would like to have one that they would develop to the level that they (the young quarterback) becomes somebody you could trade. He noted McCarthy’s past skill at developing QBs and they want to take advantage of that and he wants a certain number of QBs to work with.

Stephen Jones jumped in and was specific to note that drafting a quarterback wouldn’t have anything to do with Dak. He added that Dak will be the team’s starting quarterback and that they want to get him signed to a long-term contract.

Mike McCarthy added that the quarterback position is the most important and that developing anyone would obviously be ideal.

Pressure to draft a cornerback

Jerry Jones specified that when it comes to how big of a priority it is to get a cornerback that he would want to know what the draft board and situation looked like. His point was simply that you cannot fully answer the question until you know the situation that you are in.

Stephen Jones agreed and said that they don’t feel the pressure to take a certain position early.